Curglassan and Killoon are adjacent townlands in the parish of Ballyclog, Co. Tyrone. A ‘One Place Study’ looks at the people of that place across different times: their lives, families, communities, homes, occupations, pastimes, and their place in history.
Curglassan’s name has been spelled in many different ways across the years – ‘Curglassan’ is now the official version, but ‘Corglasson’ and ‘Curglasson’ were much more common in the nineteenth century. The different spellings will be used as appropriate throughout this study.
The name ‘Curglassan’ may derive from Corr Glasáin ‘Glasán’s round hill’ or Corr Glasán ‘round hill of the finch’. ‘Killoon’ may derive from Cill Uaine ‘Uaine’s church/grave’ or ‘green church/grave’. Pre-Christian burials were reputed to have been found in the west of the townland, so the name may relate to this.
The townlands are in the east of Co Tyrone, about a mile and a half north of Stewartstown, five miles SE from Cookstown and eight miles NE from Dungannon.
Curglassan is small – around 1/3 sq mile – and centred around Curglassan Crossroads, where the Coagh Road (B160) meets Soarn Road and Mountjoy Road. Today there is housing clustered around the crossroads and a nearby Mission Hall, but the area is predominantly rural. Killoon, at around 1/5 sq mile, is even smaller and lies immediately to the north of Curglassan, east of the Coagh Road. It consists almost entirely of agricultural land.
My interest in the area is due to my ancestors, the McConnells, who lived, and farmed, in Curglassan and Killoon (and neighbouring Ballyveeny townland) from at least the late eighteenth century. As far back as 1703, when Thomas Ashe was compiling his observations for the Archbishop of Armagh, a John McConnell had “a small Farme House with A Barne & Stable etc” in ‘Corglassan’ (he was the only townland resident named).
The McConnell family tree is difficult to unpick, due to the scarcity of records and the same names recurring in each generation, but the Patrick McConnell who entered into a tenancy agreement for a house and land in ‘Corglasson’ in 1807 was almost certainly my 5x great-grandfather. The last member of the McConnell family to live in Killoon, Sarah Letitia Jane McConnell, died in 1919, and the last in Curglassan, Mary Letitia Jane Campbell nee McConnell, died there in 1953.
The reason for focusing on these two townlands in particular, and together, is that they made up the Tyrone portion of landlord Samuel Delacherois Crommelin’s estate. Crommelin, who lived in Carrowdore Castle, Co Down and also had lands in Antrim and Down, came into his Tyrone lands in 1845, the year he married Anna Maria Thompson of Armagh.
Looking at the demographics, in both the 1901 and 1911 Censuses there were slightly fewer than 60 residents across the two townlands. The majority were Presbyterian, though there were also Roman Catholics and members of the Church of Ireland (particularly the wealthier occupants of Curglassan). Almost all the residents described themselves as farmers, including some female heads of household.
Due to the nature of the records available, this study will concentrate on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However various archaeological finds over the years show occupation going back much further than that, and shed some light on the history of the area. For reasons of privacy, I don’t intend to include much material that is less than 100 years old.
Much of the initial material for this study was gathered when I was researching my McConnell relatives. By turning it into a One Place Study (or maybe more accurately a Two Place Study) I hope to learn more about the community my family lived in, their neighbours and their way of life. My first One Place Study, Kin Edar, is set in a similar time period but focuses on a single suburban big house and its grounds, located in what is now East Belfast. This new study will focus instead on the rural side of Victorian Ulster, making use of a range of land records, as well as the usual genealogical and house history sources.
(c) Allie Nickell
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